Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Blind mice recover visual responses using protein from green algae

06.04.2006
Nerve cells that normally are not light sensitive in the retinas of blind mice can respond to light when a green algae protein called channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) is inserted into the cell membranes, according to a National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported study published in the April 6, 2006 issue of the journal Neuron. The study was conducted with mice that had been genetically bred to lose rods and cones, the light-sensitive cells in the retina. This condition is similar to the blinding disease retinitis pigmentosa (RP) in humans.

Vision normally begins when rods and cones, also called photoreceptors, respond to light and send signals through the retina and the optic nerve to the visual cortex of the brain, where visual images are formed. Unfortunately, photoreceptors degenerate and die in some genetic diseases, such as RP. Both mice and humans go progressively blind because with the loss of rods and cones there is no signal sent to the brain.

This study, funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI) of the NIH, raises the intriguing possibility that visual function might be restored by conveying light-sensitive properties to other surviving cells in the retina after the rods and cones have died. Principal investigator Zhuo-Hua Pan, Ph.D., of Wayne State University School of Medicine, and his colleagues, using a gene-transfer approach, introduced the light-absorbing protein ChR2 into the mouse retinal cells that survived after the rods and cones had died. These cells became light sensitive and sent signals through the optic nerve to the visual cortex.

"This innovative gene-transfer approach is certainly compelling," said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of vision research at the NIH. "This is a clever approach that offers the possibility of some extent of vision restoration at some time in the future." In addition to RP, there are many forms of retinal degenerative eye diseases that possibly could be treated by gene-based therapies.

The researchers determined that the signals reached the visual cortex in a majority of the ChR2-treated mice. The light sensitivity persisted for at least six months. Did the mice regain usable vision? Probably not, but the investigators suggest a number of technical improvements to their experiments which might make that possible.

"This study demonstrates the feasibility of restoring visual responses in mice after they lose the light-sensitive photoreceptor cells," said Dr. Pan. He and his colleague, Alexander Dizhoor, Ph.D., of Pennsylvania College of Optometry, another of the study authors, think that expressing ChR2 in other types of retinal cells may help to improve this approach. In addition, the authors state it would be interesting for further study to modify the light sensitivity and/or wavelength selectivity of ChR2, or use similar microbial proteins, to produce diverse light-sensitive channels to improve outcomes for the possible restoration of normal vision.

News Office | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nei.nih.gov
http://www.nih.gov

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cells communicate in a dynamic code
19.02.2018 | California Institute of Technology

nachricht Studying mitosis' structure to understand the inside of cancer cells
19.02.2018 | Biophysical Society

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Contacting the molecular world through graphene nanoribbons

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

When Proteins Shake Hands

19.02.2018 | Materials Sciences

Cells communicate in a dynamic code

19.02.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>